tv Meet the Press MSNBC December 5, 2011 2:00am-3:00am EST
this sunday, less than a month before the first votes are castn 2012's race for the white house a major shakeup in the gop field. >> i am suspending my presidential campaign. >> president obama makes the case for another four years. new jobless numbers give him a boost, falling to the lowest level since 2009. but slow growth, rising debt and a financial crisis in europe are still major concerns. >> now is not theime to slam the brakes on the recovery. right now it's time to step on the gas. >> this morning, a debate on the president's case for re-election. first, mr. obama's senior campaign adviser david axelrod and then the gop's top party official reince priebus, axelrod and priebus debate the obama presidency and the 2012 campaign. then our political round table breaking down the gop primary battle. herman cain is out.
suspending his presidential campaign after a rough few weeks, including allegations monday of a long-time extramarital affair. >> false accusations about me continue. they have sidetracked and distracted my ability to present solutions to the american people. what does it mean for the rest of the field? so mitt romney pressed again about his changes positions and record as massachusetts governor. >> it is an unusual interview. all right. let's do it again. >> meantime newt gingrich predicts he will win the nomination. >> clearly more conservative candidate by any rationale standard. >> will the fight for the right come down to romney versus gingrich. joining us the author of the paper's endorsementoe mcquaid. anchor of bbc world news
america, katy kay. former democratic congressman, harold ford jr. and "time" magazine's mark halperin. from nbc news in washington, "meet the press," with david gregory. >> good morning. what a week in politics from herman cain's exit, the republican field down to seven. here's how things in iowa and new hampshire look now. exclusive results from our nbc poll in new hampshire has mitt romneyn top over newt gingrich by 16 points. ron paul in third place with 16%. and in iowa, newt gingrich, ahead of mitt romney by 8 points and ron paul in third with 17%. herman cain at 9%. a little later on we'll show you how it looks when his support is taken out and redistributed to other candidates. also we have the des moines register poll, they released it last night. newt gingrich on top in iowa, butagain, underlining ron paul
in second place sghtly ahead of mitt romney. a lot to get to. we go inside the polls and look at the key moments from the week later in our political round table. for a preview of the battle ahead this fall when the president faces the republican nomie we have the senior adviser to the president's re-election campaign, david axelrod and chairman of the republican national committee, reince priebus. mr. axelrod i will begin with you. welcome back. >> good to be here. >> talk jobs. the unemployment chart looks like for the obama presidency with that november number, 8.6%, dipping below 9% for the first time since all the way back in 2009. but not all good news. if you look inside the report, "the new york times" editorialized it this way. we'll put it on the screen. properlyunderstood the times writes the new figures reveal more about the depth of distress in theob market than real improvement and job prospects. most of the decline in november's unemployment rate was not because jobless people found new work, rather because 315,000
dropped out of the work force, a reflection of extraordinarily weak demanz by employers for workers. do the numbers change the way the president looks at the committee? >> david, we've never hung our hat on one number and we continue to have big challenges. let's recognize that we've created 2.9 million private sector jobs in the last 21 months. the first month we took office, we -- the country was losing 750,000 jobs in one month. so, what we need to do is accelerate that, which is why the president has pushed the american jobs act. the key -- one of the key proponents, the continuation of the payroll tax cut and that is the big battl and that is the big question we have to solve right now. mr. priebus, i hope, will explain why the republican party and congress won't extend that. they would sooner let taxes go up on 160 million working americans than ask a little more
of 300,000 millionaires. that doesn't make sense. that'sot good for our economy. >> the democrats are willing to fund that a different way, as said on this program last week. in the end do you think it will pass? >> that's u to them. there's a willingness on the part and a commitment on the part of the president, on the part of the democratic party in congress. we have yet to hear from the republicans. in the summer they said they didn't want to extend it. it's unfam thomble why they want to raise taxes on 160 million working americans. it's not good now. >> you've said before that the economy is a great predictor of elections and you can talk about how things were, how much worse they could have become. inevitably there's a lot of voters who loo at the jobless situation and say, this president simply hasn't gotten it done. look, i think people are more -- there's no doubt that the economy needs to pick up. we've made some progress. we need to make a lot more. there's a larger question, which is, how do we restore the
economic security tt middle-class americans have lost, not just over the last three years, but over a long period of time. that's a lot about what this election i going to be about. and what we've heard from the republican candidates, is not a plan for that. they want to continue to give tax cuts to the very wealthy, except double down on those. they think if we roll back the rules on wall street and let wall street write its own rules that will somehow accelerate the economy and profit everyday americans. that is not a prescription for rebuilding middle class security. the president has it. it goes to education, it goes to creating the advanced manufacturing jobs of the future. it goes to making smart investments that will give people better opportunity and so we need a plan and a vision that has at its core the welfare and thehances of the middle class in this country. >> as you know, having been in washington, washington is failing the american people when it comes to dealing with the debt crisis in this country. the super committee has failed.
theebt debacle over the summer. the president started a debt commission. he convened it. it was simpson-bowles. the ven knack cular in washington. they came out with tough recommendations, tax reform, tax increases, spending cuts. nothing ever came of it. warren buffett said this week it was a travesty that was simply ignored. alan simpson said, telling "time" magazine, he was the co-chair, that bill clinton would have actually embraced it. this presidentid not. governor christie of new jersey said this week, the following about president obama. >> it's a sad day in our country's history to have a bystander in the oval office. that's what we have. >> the president says, we cannot wait. we cannot wait. he did when it came to simpson-bowles. >> let m say one thing about what governor christie said about being a bystander. i watched this president make some very difficult decisions, difficult political decisions at the beginning of this administration to right the financial sector, to get this economy out of the freefall that it was in, to save the american auto industry.
the candidate he's endorsed, governor romney work have let detroit go bankrupt, we would have lost a million more jobs. i don't think he's in a position to talk about who was a bystander. >> what about the debt? this is a huge issue. >> first of all, let's recognize the president appnted simpson and bowles and that commission, a lot of the ideas that they proposed animated his discussions with speaker bainer in the summer, he was prepared to lock arms with the speaker and move forward on a $4 trillion plan to reduce the deficit, but the speaker returned to his caucus and he had his legs cut out from under him. that was the end of it. >> bowles said there was a different calculus in the white house and it came down to politics. watch. >> we were really surprised. and, you know, myelief is that most of the members of the economic team strongly supported it. they got it. and like every white house, there's a small coball of people that surround the president that he trusts and works with and i believe it was those, the
chicago guys, the political team, that convinced him that it would be smarter for him to wait and let paul ryan go first and he would look like the sensible guy in the game. >> let me explain that a little bit before you respond. paul ryan, the budget chairman, puts out his proposal, his budget including medicare reform and the feeling in the whi house was, let him go first, he'll look unreasonable, but never did the president say, forget the other side, i put this commission together, i'm going to lead, i'm going to say to the american people we've got to take these tough steps. this commission has come back, let's do this and by the way, you're one of the chicago guys, right? >> well, i presume so, but i have to say that we did what we felt was in the best interest of moving this issue ford. as i said, i think we came awfully close in the summer of getting there, informed by the principles of this commission. had we simply thrown it out there, it would have been savaged a and torn apart by all
sorts of interest groups and parties. >> health care. you persisted with that? >> no. our goal was to succeed with this and we took the path that we thought was best. the president has already moved on a trillion dollars or more of deficit reduction. proposed $3 trillion more. i think we're going to get there by the endf next year because i think the trigger is in place, the president's not going to unlock that trigger until congress acts. we are going to pursue many of the principles that were contained within that plan. the question, though, isn't whether you take symboc acts. the question is whether you make progress. >> did theresident miss an opportunity to lead on slashing the debt? >> i think leading is moving thingsforward. i don't think that had we thrown the proposal out to be savaged and defeated, that would have been moving the proposal forward. >> let me ask you about politics. herman cain, big political story on the republican side of the ledger, he is out now. what impact does he have on this race? >> i don't know.
i'll let mr. priebus discuss that. i don't pretend to be an expert on republican politics. >> do you think his position in the race has ultimately helped the president's cause? there was a kind of reality television aspect to certainly his speech yesterday. >> i don't -- >> in the aspect of his campaign. >> you know, my general view is, i don't think the republican debates have helped the republican -- the republican cause because it has elevated ideas i don't think the american people embrace. i don't think the american people think that the way forward is to continue to give tax breaks to the people at the very top. , shift the burden to the middle class and people are trying to become middle class, cut regulation on wall street and let them write their own rules as they were doing before the crisis. and that's what we keep hearing from all these candidates. >> there are a number of candidates, it's now down to seven, but the white house seems to only be concerned about mitt romney. and the charge against him has been pretty blunt.
david plouffe on this program said this about mitt romney. >> he has no core and, you know, every day almost, it seems to be we find another issue. >> the chair of the democratic national committee echoing that this past week on msnbc, said the following. >> they need to understand that this is a person who has no moral core, no conviction, willing to change his position based on the political winds and the way they blow. >> no moral core, mo core, i mean this is a man who he's been married over0 years, who has been in effect a priest in his faith as a bishop, in the mormon church. does this not underline what is the politics and personal description? >> as much as i admire his family and admire his -- >> what does it mean no core? >> this is about public character and by the way, it's not just democrats, butost of the republicans who are making the same case, david, jon huntsman running ads, supporters aren new hampshire on that right now. we got another example of it
again last night on the fox segment that -- with mike huckabee. >> you think to say no moral core, mitt romney has no moral core? let me make this point about what happened last night. last night, governor romney said that the epa was the president's tool to crush the private enterprise system. when he was governor of massachusetts he boasted he had the toughest rules against co2 emissions from plas that he had the toughest rules when it comes to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, and now it's like that never happened. now he's on the other side of it. this is the reason i suppose why he and his aides absconded bit the hard drives from their computers when they left the governor's office, because they think they can just erase the past. what you said before, doesn't matter now. and so yes, when it comes to his public character, he doesn't have a core. it has nothing to do with his personal life. i honor his personal life, respect his personal life. this is about how you behave in
the public arena. >> republicans will make the point that your political past and the obama campaign of 2008, this is standard operating procedure. the way you attack now secretary of state hillary clinton, saying that s was on different sides of issues, that she would, you know, have different views on the same issue and here, the chair of the democratic national commite stating he has no moral core, does this not portend a negative personal campaign from the president agait mitt romney? >> as i said, let me say again, i honor his personal life, i respect him as a father, i respect his religious convictions, but this isn't about that. this is about how you behave in public and he seems to think that every day is a new day tt he can simply change all of his positions, depending on what -- who his audience is or what the political circumstance is and th is not what you want in a president of the united states. sos that an issue? yes, that's an issue. >> newt gingrich, does he have a core?
is he a formidable candidate that the president fac? >> i think that's what voters are going to he to decide. he's, obviously, a man with an expansive thoughts and ideas that he expresses widely and we'll see how that plays. i don't know the answer to that yet. >> is he somebody that this white house will starto target in the same way they've targeted mitt romney? >> look, let's be clear, every ngle day republicans are out there, republican candidates out there, attacking the president for everything, every ill real and imagined. that is the nature of politics. we have litimate differences with the republican party. mostly about how we rebuild an economy that works for the middle class in this country. we're gng to have a big debate about that. yes, we're going to challenge them when we think they are wrong. we're going to challenge them when we think they are changing positions, they're cutting their positions in order to fit the particular political moment, because we can't afford that kind oleadership right now. that's what campaigns are.
they're tough, they're comparative, because people have to make a choice. and they have to decide, who's going to provide the leadership that they want in the future. that will relate to their lives and prospects. >> leave it there. david axelrod, thank you very much, as always. turn to the chair of the republican national committee, reince priebus. welcome back to "meet the press." >> good morning, david. >> i want to pick up on this point, on this comparative nature of this campaign. >> sure. >> campaigns are tough, already gotten tough. how do you respond to mr. axelrod on the moral core question for mitt romney? >> for the first time, i've seen david tongue tied. i tnk he's living an alternative universe here. what this race is going to come down to are a couple things. one, the president made some promises. he made some pretty big promises and you talked about them, in regard to the debt, big promises in regard to the deficit. he said he cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. what did he do? he put forward the biggest structural deficit in the history of america. he's to your point, what i
think is going to be the bigger problem for this president. people in this country don't think that this president's real anymore. he's not genuine anymore. he came to this country across this country as a candidate and he promised to be the great uniter, david. he was going to be different. he was going to bring everyone together, listen to the debt commission, do you remember that? guess what? now he's going out around america, y heard david talk about it, as the great divider. >> but chairman -- >> he wants to turn the country into the divided states of america. that is the obama strategy. >> it is difficult when you have the senate leader of the republicans saying his goal is to make him a one-term president. it's hard to become a uniter in those circumstances. >> we're living under the barack -- the economy we're living under right now, this absurd itty that somehow we're hurting as an economy because of republicans is -- it doesn't appeal to anyone's logic because of this. nancy pelosi controlled the congress for two out of the three years that president obama's been president.
harry reid controlled the senate for two of those three years. guess what? we are living under the barack obama democrat policies today. >> and the democratic economy, but there is some good. 8.6% unemployment now. here's some of the other good news in the economy, as you look at it, particularly can be argued from t democratic point of view. 140,000 privateector jobs created in november. sales of existing homes rose 10.4% in october. federal reserve reported growth in 11 of 1 bank regions, the dow closed up 490oints on wednesday. do you know worry as some conservative commentators said, as this trend continues could be diicult for a republican nominee, revolving their campaign around a troubled economy. >> president obama's poll numbers are worse than jimmy carter's poll numbers for the first time in his presidency. he's waking up this morning wishing that his poll numbers were as good as jimmy carter's. you know why -- >> that's actually out of context. a spike that carter had around iran hostage issue, mostly they were lower than where president
obama is. >> people's opinions of this president couldn't be any lower. this president -- >> i'm asking you about -- >> not filling the america people -- >> i'm asking youbout -- >> i'm going to explain that. you put the statistics up before. the reason that the actual percentage of people filing with the department of labor went down was because 300,000 people threw up their hands and said gues what, this economy's so bad i'm not even going to file a piece of paper with the department of labor. we all know that that's true. the reality is, everything that this president has touched, everything he's touched, has not turned out to go very well. everything he touched has gotten worse. now, the debt commission, he didn't follow it. super committee, he's out campaigning he was nowhere to be found. health care costs he said obama care would make everything better in regard to health care. it would lower the cost of health care. guess what? costs are higher. debt is higher. the deficits are higher. the president has been a disast to this country.
>> button up one thing. we talk how tough these campaigns can be. you said this president is not real and that's how americans are perceiving him, not real. you heard debbie wasserman-schultz, the dnc chair, say mitt romney has no moral core, david plouffe saying no core, david axelrod saying the same about mitt romney, fair to say we're headed for a very personal and nasty campaign? >> you know what i think? i think people in this country are starving for not necessarily all republican answers and not democratic answers, people in this country aretarving for real, authentic people to lead this country. i think that the pageantry, the speeches, all the prepared remarks, the campaign stops that are masqueraded as official white house visits, people are tired. people are tired of this president's promises and failure todeliver. guess what? if this president was an employee of any biness out there in america, he would have been fired a long time ago. >> let's talk about the field. herman ca, suspended his campaign. how do you react too that? >> he has to make that decision
for himself and he did. eventually we're going to be narrowing down the field. eventually we're going to have a nominee. these things are pretty common in primaries, candidates come and go. >> were you surprised alan west, conservative tea party congressman in florida said he had become a distraction. was that your view? >> i don't think so. i think he provided a big voice in the debate, but certainly his numbers were falling over the last few weeks and he was having trouble raising money. it's only natural if your numbers are falling and you can't raise the money to stay in the race, you get out of the price. >> this what is he said at his campaign-style appearance, new headquarters, comes up on the campaign bus, only to say he's suspending the race. this what is he said. >> here's the good news, the pundit pundits would like for me to shut up, drop out, and go away.
well, as my gramother who lived to be 104 years old used to say, when somebody was dead wrong, bless that little heart. i am not going to be silenced and i'm not going away. >> do you agree that the press basically wanted him out of the race? do you agree, as he's charged, that democrats were behind some of the allegations against him? >> you know, i don't know. i mean, i just don't know about that, david. but i do know is -- >> is that high ber baly by chance? >> i'm going to let herman cain speak for herman cain. the reality is he provided a voice in this race, he's out of this race for a lot of reasons. >> he's not going away. do you think he still has a big impact? does his voice matter? >> he might have a big impact. you have to have the money and sxan and ability to get your voice out. the voice is as big as you're able to get out into the public. i mean but i do think the bigger
issue here is that he provided a voice, as well as t rest of our field, as to what we're going to do to get this country back on track. >> why is the field and why are republican voters so fickle? that seems to be the takeaway in this campaign so far. look how man many candidates have been up and down? >> i don't think it's anything unique. in american politics, this is a big field. obviously when you have a desire within a party to save this country economically from a president that isn't connecting the dots, you know, this idea somehow competitive primaries is somehow bad for a party, look at all these republican governors across the midwest, every one of them came thrgh a very difficult primary and guess what? they went into blue states and won. this president, i mean, hillary clinton, and barack obama, nearly gouged each other's eyes out through the end of june before a national convention and guess what? barack obama won pretty easily, brought a super majority with
him in congress and 60 votes in the senate and now we're living with the consequences of that democratic leadership and the american people, by nbc's own polling, have said, that they are fed up with this president who says one thing and does another. >> newt gingrich, now a frontrunner along with mitt romney, has said on this program, that in the past, discipline has been a problem for him. in his personal life and in his public life. to that point, a lot of critics are looking at his comments this week and saying are we seeing the return of that newt gingrich? this wt is he said about children. >> really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods, have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. so they literally have no habit of showing up on monday. there's no habit of staying all day. they have no habit of i do this and you give me ca. unless it's illegal. >> is that the view of the republican party? he called child labor laws truly stupid.
>> well, i can't be the referee of all, you know, 21 candidates in the republican field. i mean, the reality is, that these candidates have to speak fors themselves. >> but you're out there raising money, you are the top party official, the rank and fil are going to turn to you and let their voices b heard. do you think that's the republican party pting its best foot forward to challenge president obama? >> well, i'm not going to dissect hundreds of hours of footage of every one of these candidates and everything they say. what i can tell you is that what newt gingrich was referring to in some of those remarks was the fact that under this president we have more poor people in this country, more on food stamps than ever before. for a president that portrays himself as being the guy that's going to look out for all economic sectors in this country, including those that are less fortunate, he's provided this country under his policies some numbers that are pretty staggering with regard to how many more people are poor and how many more are on food stam snoops do you think
presidential candidates should decline an invitation from donald trump to a presidential debate in iowa? >> we've had a lot of debates and some of them have been sanctied by the republican national committee and some of them haven't. we've had debates with msnbc as well. but, you know, listen, i think that these are programs that each of these candidates have to decide for themselves whether they're going to compete in. there's strategy involved, competing and not competing. those are things those candidates -- >> the issue with msnbc, with nbc news where it aired on msnbc. are you equating that -- >> rachel maddow and ed schultz discussing the debate afterwards for two two hours isn't ideal. these candidates decide what arenas -- >> do you think it distracts from the seriousness of the debate to have donald trump moderating a debate wh a presidential candidate? >> it's up to the candidates. i don't make those decisions. the decisions i make are making sure we have a functional operation -- >> you're the chairman of the
party. you must have an opinion. >> my personal opinion doesn't matter. what we nd to do at the republican national committee to make sure we're functional and operational and we do everything we can to make sure that we save this country and one of the things wehink we need to do is defeat barack obama. >> newt gingrich says he's the inevitable nominee. do you agree with that? >> i think it's going to be unto the voters in iowa and new hampshire and south carolina and florida. >> how about a harder one. do the packers go undefeated? >> i think they do. they beat the giants today they're going undefeated and i think they're going to theuper bowl. >> you're not the football commissioner but you're willing to give me your opinion on that. >> you guys are going to have the cheese heads coming out of your ears pretty soon. >> chairman priebus, thank you very much. appreciate it. coming up, the major moments of the week. cain's fiery exit. newt's rapid rise. romney's perception problems. they continue. plus, the political economy, what the jobless numbers mean for the president's re-election prpects. aolitical round table weighs in.
publisher of the new hampshire union leader joe mcquaid, bbc's katy kay, former congressman harold ford jr., "time" magazine's mark halperin. "meet the press" is brought to you by act my age? -why? -why? -why? [ female announcer ] we all age differently. roc® multi-correxion 4 zone moisturizer with roc®retinol and antioxidants. lines, wrinkles, and sun damage will fade. roc multi-correxion. correct what ages you. two of the most important are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands with the same emissions as many other oils and that's a huge breakthrough. that's good for our country's energy security and our economy.
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we are back with our political roundtable. joining me the publisher of the new hampshire "union leader" joe mcquaid. former congressman from tennessee, harold ford jr. editor at large, senior political analyst for "time" 45g zone, mark halperin. and washington correspondent and anchor for bbc world news america, katty kay. welcome all of you. i have to go right to the scene this weekend on saturday. down in atlanta, herman cain's brand-new campaign headquarters. there it is. quite a -- quite a display. then you have him and mrs. cain arriving on a campaign bus. they get off the bus, the music that you can ar, "i am america." he's there with his wife, and yet, katty kay, here he is. this is why he's getting out of the race. >> this is exactly why -- >> because of theseaults and unproved accusations it has paid
and had a tremendous, painful price on my family. >> katty? >> well, he was defiant when he got out of the race. and he didn't say it was specifically that there was anything in these allegations, and that that was why he was leaving. but, this has dodged him for the last couple of weeks. it was interesng to me that his wife was up there on stage with him. it is curiou when political wives are paraded up on stage at moments like this. why he chose to put her there and why she chose to be there. but it was interesting because his -- you know, to be honest about this, was his campaign ever going to go anywhere? he got an awful lot of attention from the national press. he was part of the sort of absurd reality show of this campaign, at a timehen america faces huge issues, and huge challenges. we had these sort of whimsical, rather fluffy distractions which were never actually going to get herman cain into the white house. he was never really going to be a serious candidate.
even those who supported him didn't actually think he was ever going to be president of the united states. and he hado leave the race, really, as i -- i mean, it was thellegations of an affair that pushed him out. but he was never actually going to be the candidate or the presint of the united states. >> mark halperin, we're talking aboutajor moments of the week. and why they mattered. why does this matter? >> it matters because mitt romney is gog to be the republican nominee, unless someone consolidates the conservative wing, the anti-romney wing of the rty, against him. and herman cain, maybe might have been the nominee, i think, but he certainly has some supporters arounthe country. he's got grassroots energy. in iowa. in other places. in south carolina. in florida. and now, newt gingrich has a chance, likely, to t cain's endorsement, to scoop that up, and to be the one person who can consolidate all that anti-romney sentiment in a way that could stop romney from being the nominee. >> joe mcquaid, what do you s about this? >> i think it matters because it clarifies his republican field that much more. while i agree i don't think he's ever going to make it, i think that had more to do with his
complete and total lack of campaign staff and experience. when he came up here last week, we asked him, didn't youhink you might have wanted to walk before you ran for president? and his was unsatisfying. and he didn't have that much support in our state of new hampshire. but i think it'sgoing to be break and probably go toward gingrich's favor somewhat. because ey're looking for someone with passion. the anti-romney's got to be a passionate guy. cain was a passionate guy. >> harold ford, let's look at what's happening in iowa. here's our new polling. this is with herman cain still in the race. we then did it a second time by asking cain supporters who their second choice would be, and then you can see how it gets redistributed. gingrich up two, romney up one, paul up two. perry up one. bachmann up two. so it is kind of all overhe place, even though an endorsement, you would think, would go to gingrich at this point. >> all indications suggest that. you know, gingri has, to
mark's point, it's interesting how with the help of the endorsementast week, how he has emerged not only as the perhaps the alternative to romney, but as a very serious voice. if you think about those who've emerged in the past, perry, bachmann, donald trump and others, not serious people in some ways, but they were not serious candidate gingrich, whether you lik him or not, whether you disagree th him or not, and i disagree with him on most things, or a lot of things, he's a serious thinker, he's a presenter in a very serious way, and he's been able to connect with conservative voters in ways that the others have not. if you're in the mitt romney campaign this morning you have to be far more concerned than you've ever been about a candidate who might be able to at least substantively stay around. the argument he may implode. i served with him in congress. he certainly has the propensity to talk about himself in grandiose ways. it will be interesting to see how he conducts himself over the next 30 days because this race happens, the first race is in 30 days. >> speaking of newt gingrich, that lack of discipline that he's talked about, the major moment this wee is this theme
of the good news versus the bad news. the bad news is on display, some suggest, when there's arrogance, when there's sort of, you know, a lack of discipline and putting out ideas about kidsand child labor ls. this is what he told abc about his prospects. >> i'm going to be the nominee. and i've worked very hard not to look a the recent polls that the odds are very high i'm going to be the nominee. >> good news or bad news? >> that would be newt. he is unusual. he's unique in american politics in the last 40 years. no one from either party who has been around as long, both very prominent figure but also a grassroots organizer. and if this were going to be a six-month campaign, if newt had risen six months ago i think the romney people could be possible that over time those grandiose statements uld catch up to him. i think a lot of people in the party now they want a figure like churchill. they want a big person who talks in bold ways to take on barack obama.
i think the grandiose stuff gets laughed at in this city but may help over the next 30 days. >> one of the advantages he has is someties people in the country don't really understand the maitude and the monumental nature and stature of churchill and kennedy and some the others. so he gets away with it. the question though is whether he implodes on other fronts. i think the points he made about children, and the points he's made in the past about the -- the african-americans and their role in our country, and whether or not obama fits some anti-colonial -- those are the kind of points i think, at the end of the day, serious people, and particularly independents at you know, are going to begin to ask, is he the kind of pers we'd want negotiating with our exit from iraq? is he the kind of leader we wnt representi ining with chinese business leaders. those are questions that ultimately -- >> and katty, this guy as speaker was second in line to the president. you don't get much more inside than that. you don't have to look at those, the lobbying piece, or you know, the strategic advising to eddie mac. >> right.
you can see mitt romney's campaign already playing on that. that he is the guy, that mitt romney is the guy who's been outside of politics. he's the one that's been the businessman with prangt cal experience. and look at newt gingrich. he's the person that's been inside over washington so long at a time when the country is very suspicious of washington. the economy for the moment for the romney campaign is how hard dohey go after newt gingrich? are they going to go up in ads, for example? are they going to put money behind this? are they going to attack him directly? that's a decision the campaign hasn't made yet but they're going to have to find a way to tackle newt gingrich. republicans, in the establishment of the republican party that you speak to, are terrified of a newt gingrich campaign. hey believe that he could not only lose the republicans the white house at a time wh this is theirs to take, but that he could also lose some seats in the house and the senate, as well. this is a real concern amongst the establishment. >> romney, the only reason he's the outside is because he keeps running and losing. not that he hasn't trie-- tried to get in. as far as gingrich goes, and
bold ideas, i think mark is right on that. i think he gets a bum rap on the child labor thing. that kind of idea is really going to be embraced by the conservative wing, which is what he said in boston was, there were kids in inner city schools who never had a job. and only have one parent and they have no idea what the work ethic is like. toss out some of the high-priced union janitors, which get the conservative base -- >> but are u really saying that the working poor in this country don't have good role models on how to work hard? >> not the working poor. but these are people who are not working and the kids are not working an this gives a chance for e kids to take a broom, work in the cafeteria. it would require -- >> how do you not see that as a kind of great distortion of what's really happening out there? >> this may excite the conservative base but at the end of the day this race will be decid by independent voters o went two to one in 2008 for president obama. -- >> for the nomination. >> if you're sitting in obama's shoes today and his campaign shoes, it's going to be decided by independents.
that kind of language will excite independents and conservatives. but the question is whether or not that translates into a general election victory. >> i was only speaking -- >> i think it excites independents. and i asked mr. axle r0d before if they don't want romney to go, they were exciting the base for romneyhis morning with axelrod's comments and what you were showing about no moral core, et cetera. geez. >> it's become -- it seems tat in the country the sort of general right has shifted from a ream raising of big government to some extent fears about the middle-class being squeezed and problems of inequality. and i think in that context, newt gingrich's comments about the working poor, and poor kids who can only find work if it's illegal, come across as the wrong tone in the country at the moment. thas not where america is at the moment. >> it's what's in people's minds. it would be different -- if people were saying gosh, what are we going to do about this issue? i applaud him for talking about poverty and issues that affect poor people. if that's the answer, if he's
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but this was the major moment for romney being questioned by fox news about flip-flops in his past. watch. >> like the "union leader," your critics charge that you make decisions based on political expediency, and not core conviction. you have been on the both sides of some issues. and there's videotape of you going back years speaking about different issues, climate change, abortion, immigration, gay rights. how can voters trust what they hear from you today is what you will believe if you win the white house? >> well, brett, your list is just not accurate. so, one we're going to have to be better informed about my views on issues. >> do you believe that that was the right thing for massachusetts? do you think a mandate, mandating people to buy insurance, is the right tool? >> brett, i don't kno how many hundred times i've said this, too. this is an unusual interview. all right, let's do it again. absolutely. >> mark halperin, he's
uncomfortable there. >> my simple view of presidential politics. you win when you're controlling your public image and you lose when your public image is a negative. he had a horrible week, not just that interview. but in general he is being characterized as an unprincipaled flip-flopper by joe's paper, by implication -- >> your magazine. >> and the cover of "time," and the cover of "the new york times" magazine. this is his problem to winning the nomination. i think if it's a long fight between him and gingrich and others, i think he'll win. he's got the best organization, the most money, they're on the ballot everywhere, et cetera. if this is a quick strike by newt gingrich, winning iowa, winning new hampshire, or south carolina and florida, the establishment, in the past, would rally to romney. the establishment has no great love for him. they look at that interview and panic and say yes, we don't want newt gingrich at the top of the ticket, but look at mitt romney. we don't want him, either. he's got to gain back control of his image and be seen as being other than an unprincipled flip-flopper. >> joe, you took a swipe at him
as telling him someone who wants to tell you what you want to hear. >> without naming him. but i guess it wasn't that subtle. >> even i got it. >> we had to go back into the files like you guys do on "meet the ess" to whack him this morning. we have a cartoon running of him running aog sled, and he's telling the dog sled, go left, go rit, go left, go right. actually it's not him, it's his father from 1968. he had the same problem of going back and forth. i think the brett behr interview was just a killer from him. he's back on his heels. katty is right. his team has to make the decision what to do with gingrich. because it could really change if iowa or new hampshire don't go for m. >> it's interesting. to some extent you could level similar charges against newt gingrich, that he has changed positions on health care, education, he did that ad with nancy pelosi on the environment, on climate change. and yet, he -- newt gingrich seems to be immune to these charges. and i think it's, you know, a reflection of how dissatisfied, clearly, the conservative base
is with mitt romney. but he has -- newt gingrich has similar issues in his own past but the base ses to be in a curiously willing mood to forgive him those transgressions. >> immigration is one of those issues and last sunday we played a clip from mitt romney on this program in 2007. his advisers were concerned about that. they thought that weidn't show the full context, which shows consisncy, in their view, on that issue. i want to go back on this issue of what to do with illegal immigrants in the country, and mitt romney's -- the full answer to that questn, or at least the full sentence as he was asked about it in 2007 about tim russert. watch. >> those people who have come here illegally, and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship. but they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here. for the rest of their lives. merely by virtue of having come here illegally. and that, i think, is the great flaw in the final bill that came forward from the senate.
>> but they shouldn't have to go home? >> well, whether they suld go home -- they should go home eventually. in my view, they should have a set period ring which period they sign up for application for permanent residency, or -- or for a citizenship. but there's a set period. whereupon they should return home. >> the question for everybody, is he not consistent, as his team points out, that the fault line in that debate is, whether you should be somehow rewarded for being here illegally? he is saying, then, no. and he says no now. >> i think he's probably where a lot of americans are. i don't know what he's been all over on some issues and all. i have to tell you, i don't think that the american people will punish a candidate for any high office who, he or she, has matured and thought differently about issues. i'm an exempt am of it. i was opposed to marriage equality three years ago. i have a different opinion on it now because my wife has helped me understand the issue. i've listened to the public dialogue. i was for certain aspects of
abortion. i'm now against certain aspects of abortion after learning more about the issue and have been able to explain it. his fundamental problem is that it looks as if it's all motivated by politics. if romney cannot exchain some of these shifts or changes in opinion based on different thought processes, fundamentally rethinking and understanding it, if it's only interpreted political exz ped yensy, he will lose. >> quickly on immigration, is he vulnerable or not? >> in the context of running against newt gingrich i don't think he's vulnerable. gingrich is to his left, whatever romney's actual position is. i think if he's the nominee he may be losing the general election right now because he's been acting as a hard-liner on immigration and the hispanic community does not like it and a immigration and the hispanic community does not like it and a ♪ [ laughs ] ♪ ♪
character, he -- he doesn't have a core. it -- it has nothing to do with his personal life. i honor hispersonal life. i respect his personal life. but this is about how you behave in the public arena. >> but you -- >> obama's getting ready to go negative pretty hard, and pretty personal? >> no matter who is in for republican, they will. mitt romney is a man who has let others define him. the white house has done a very aggressive job. republicans against him are doing a good job. gingrich will do an aggressive job. it's a real allenge for romney to figure out how to get through this process stronger rather than weaker. >> of course republicans are coming after obama pretty hard, too. to our trend tracker. look what's trending this morning,s you might expect, gingrich topping the iowa polls, as we've talked about. the cain story. and the huckabee forum with republican candidates. overnight. the economy, as well, is such a huge issue. the president's talking about it, and the impact of europe is still a big drain on this economy. >> right, it's not on your trend tracker, david. but if europe falls apart there will be a major impact on markets, on confidence. there will be a big impact on
american banks, and a big impact on american exports to euroe. this is something that is outside of the white house's control. but it threatens to seriously impact the 2012 election campaign. they're sending tim geithner to europe this week to try to talk tough to european leaders. but coming from a country that isn't actually able to get much done politically itself, it's kind of hard to say to europeans,ou've got to get your political house in order. >> all right. we'll be watching all of that. before we go today you can watch our latest press pass conversation with mike allen, a must-read for political junkies. he's the co-author of a new ebook, the right fights back and we go behind the scenes in the rac for the republican nomination. it's at your website,